THREE CREW MEMBERS on
Royal Caribbean International's Monarch of the Seas died on Sept. 2
after being exposed to some sort of gaseous substance, according to
a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. Twelve
additional crew members were treated for symptoms ranging from eye
watering to difficulty breathing; three were transferred to local
hospitals, the spokeswoman said. The incident occurred at 9:15 a.m.
as passengers were disembarking the Monarch in Los Angeles. No
passengers were affected by the gas. Airborne gases overtook the three crew while replacing a
section of pipe connected to the ships sewage system, Royal
Caribbean International said. The fire
department on Sept. 2 was investigating to determine the nature of
CRUISE LINES said its Carnival Conquest, which has been
homeported in New Orleans since its 2002 debut, will sail from Galveston, Texas, "indefinitely." The
Conquest will sail seven-day cruises from Galveston to its
scheduled port calls: Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman
Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico. Conquest passengers who are fully
deposited or booked as of Sept. 1 will recieve a $50 per-person
shipboard credit. Passengers who opt to cancel will receive a full
CRUISE SHIPS AS FLOATING HOTELS? Cruise lines in
Miami each said they were considering how, and if, cruise ships
could be converted to house Katrina refugees or recovery workers.
Royal Caribbean Cruises CEO Richard Fain told Travel Weekly that
his company had been talking to state and federal agencies "to see
if there's some way to make a difference." Meanwhile, Carnival
Cruise Lines said last week it had received an "initial inquiry"
from the federal government about using cruise ships for Katrina
relief efforts. "Although to undertake such an endeavor would
involve many complicated issues, we are actively taking a look at
it," the line said in a statement.
THE LOGISTICS ALONE -- of turning the vessels
into floating hotels -- may prove tough. Although an initial
assessment last week by port officials showed that many of the
wharves were relatively intact, the Mississippi River last week was
closed except to shallow-draft vessels like tugs and barges and
recovery boats. Then there is the issue of costs, including
refunding passengers currently booked on ships and provisioning the
vessels. Industry veteran Rod McLeod suggested it might make more
sense to use the ships as temporary housing for relief workers: "At
some point in time, if they're not able to rehabilitate some
hotels, maybe for the first responders, put them on a cruise
NEW ORLEANS-BASED Delta Queen Steamboat Co. continued to
operate through the storm -- all three of its ships were sailing
"up-river" itineraries during Katrina and the storm's aftermath.
Some reservations staff was relocated to the Buffalo, N.Y.
headquarters of Delta Queen's parent company. And president Bruce
Nierenberg promised the line would continue to operate, albeit on
the Upper Mississippi and the Ohio rivers, through the fall.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL, a master of
onboard gadgetry, rolled out its latest: A surfing machine. The
device, called a FlowRider, shoots a powerful sheet of water up an
incline, and participants grab Flowboards (looks like a snowboard,
acts like a surfboard) or Boogie boards and "surf" down and around
on the water. The FlowRider is in waterparks and resorts around the
world, but this will be its first on-water debut. It will show up
on the Freedom of the Seas, which debuts in May.